For more than 20 years, Dan McKena’s high school construction class has charitably given back to their community by taking on special projects to help people in need.
And recently, over a dozen students from the class, banded together to help build a bus stop shelter for a local elementary school student who is wheelchair-bound.
It all started when 5-year-old Ryder Killam’s father, Tim, posted on Facebook that the family was seeking a bus stop to replace their makeshift shelter made of a patio umbrella tied to a fence.
Killam was trying to find a way to keep his son, who was born with spina bifida and is completely wheelchair dependent, sheltered from the harsh New England weather while waiting for the school bus.
“Our door to the bus stop is approximately 75 feet and in inclement weather, it was very difficult to rush Ryder out to the stop,” Killam said.
The Facebook post caught the attention McKena who assigned the project to 14 students as part of their senior project.
And after about a month of hard work, Ryder’s replacement shelter – which was designed so he could sit in his chair and see the bus – was finished. The result was an ADA-compliant hut with two windows and a heat lamp for the winter months.
“The size is perfect and because it’s ADA compliant, we are able to be inside with him. Ryder can be anxious, so having one of us with him is so important,” Killam said.
By incorporating these projects, “not only are they learning to use the tools and equipment, but they’re also learning how to be a part of their community,” McKena said.